Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Can national coaches see the problems at grassroots level?

Street soccer contains a lot of the attributes we write about every week at Better Soccer Coaching. I played it and I’m surenew-image-dave-clarke.jpg many of you did and wish it was still alive and kicking in streets around the world. It would help us all on a Saturday morning. So I was very interested this week to read a quote by the man who is charged with running England’s Under 18 team.

Talking about playground or street soccer, he wanted to see it replicated in a safe environment for 9, 10 and 11 year olds at local soccer clubs. An excellent idea. However he went on to say we – that is the youth soccer coaches at grass roots level – should not get them playing one or two touch soccer, instead we should let them run with the ball and should let them make all the decisions about when and if they should pass it themselves. He argues that that is the only way national teams will get players who are exciting and run with the ball and beat opponents and excite the fans of tomorrow.

I quite liked reading this but at the same time I was not comfortable with it. I have players at under 9 who will run up a blind alley and not look to play a wall pass to a team mate which would open up the tightest of defences. I have players who can run around every player on the pitch but won’t pass the ball and if he played quick one twos he would be through on goal. And after 10 minutes of the same player doing the same thing i.e. not passing the ball, the rest of his team get fed up and stop playing.

I think it’s quite a complex problem, and advice from coaches who work at national level is not always relevant at grassroots level. If all 9 and 10 year olds were able to run down the pitch with the ball, look up see the goal, beat another player then make a decision when to make the killer pass then there wouldn’t be much need for all the soccer coach advice I give every week in Better Soccer Coaching.

The boys that the academies at national level work with are the cream of youth soccer talent in the country. I’m still trying to get young Jonny to use his left foot and he’s already at Under 14.

It’s fantastic that grassroots soccer is beginning to be taken very seriously but maybe the national coaches who are keen to get boys into their academies that have come through coaches like you and I should spend some time with us and see the problems and the vast range of abilities we coach every week.

Dave Clarke, editor, Better Soccer Coaching


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Some very good points there. That is the problem when proffessional coaches who work with the top players at junior / youth level do not relate to the vast contrast between abilities at ordinary kids teams around the country.
I do believe though that the over analysing of Englands failure to qualify is getting ridiculous. It is good to see grassroots in the spot light but i do not think we all need to lock ourselves away because we are doing everything wrong. Lets not kid ourselves if we had qualified there wouldnt be any of this “everybody getting involved with their view on whats right and wrong with coaching” It was fully grown proffessional adults that failed not grassroots coaches! I do not believe there is a great deal wrong with our methods i just think sometimes people look for change just for the sake of changing.

Comment by swift1

I quite agree with your comments, the bigwigs at the fa don’t have a clue of the problems of grassroots coaches and whatsmore don’t want to. This plan will be frittered away, they are just being seen to do something. Kids can’t play football in the street anymore because of councils putting up ‘no ball games’ signs, parents have forgotten what they used to do when they were young and all the green land is being sold for housing for the ever growing population.Therefore kids will have to play at organised events which cost a packet to hire the venues from the councils

Comment by Kim

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